Every REI Adventures journey begins with one of these travel-savvy, behind-the-scenes folks. They know our trips from experience, and they can answer any question. "How hard is an Activity Level 4 trip?" "What kind of food will be served on my trek?" "What gear do I need for this multisport adventure?" Give us a call today at 1-800-622-2236. You'll tap into a wealth of travel experience, outdoor expertise and wisdom from the road.
Meet some of our friendly staff...
Becky has worked for REI Adventures for over 15 years as a Travel Agent and says "it is the best job I have ever had!" The favorite part of her job is that she gets to go around the world every day by providing our guests with wonderful trips. "The people who travel with us are so fascinating and it is so fun talking with them." She has traveled all over the world herself including China, Nepal, New Zealand, Greece, Peru and Fargo, ND! "Some of the things I love the most about going on our trips is the knowledge I learn from our guides and the friendships that follow." Becky also loves to hike, kayak, and play in the water with her two dogs. The one thing she never travels without is her clothes-line and pins.
A travel agent for REI Adventures for 14+ years, Dan handles travel arrangements for trips in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Dan likes to say that he got his start in the travel business booking "stagecoach tickets." "My favorite piece of REI gear is also the first thing I ever bought at REI. It's a heavy-weight fleece jacket that is now over 20 years old. It's drafty, not very warm and it does not compress at all. But, I've worn it to the summit of Mt. Rainier and out to dinner in Paris, so I'm keeping it. A funny thing about me: now that I am older, I enjoy sleeping outdoors more than when I was younger. Of the REI trips I've done, it's impossible to pick a favorite, but I might be tempted to say it was cycling in Eastern Europe on our Prague to Budapest trip. I'm always planning my next trip(s). Up next: The Gila Wilderness (NM) and The Kungsleden (Sweden). Further out: Indonesia and Alaska (subject to change)."
Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Elesha has lived in the US for three years now. She has been on the other side of the travel industry—as a paying customer. She has purchased three separate round-the-world trips in her lifetime and has lived abroad in England, Balearic Islands and Canada. Since coming to work for REI Adventures, Elesha's favorite part of the job has been helping people prepare for their upcoming adventure. She finds it challenging to choose her favorite destination as each has its own charm and appeal. China stands out for its rich culture and history, Thailand for food, Whistler for adventure! In her spare time Elesha loves to snowboard, surf, scuba dive, participate in triathlons and can't wait to try her hand at ice-climbing! She never leaves home without a sleeping bag liner and first aid kit!
Liz enjoys inspiring customers to take their dream vacations and learn about the amazing environments and cultures of world. She has been an Adventure Specialist with REI Adventures since 2006, and also is an avid hiker, camper and downhill skier. She never heads out on a camping trip without her trusty headlamp. She has traveled in the Americas, Europe, and Australia, and also lived abroad while attending graduate school. Liz has enjoyed REI Adventures trips to Alaska, Croatia, Nicaragua, Scotland and Utah—which have included activities like biking, hiking, kayaking and river rafting. What's next on her travel wish list? "Anywhere in Africa, Antarctica and Asia... so I can say I've been to all 7 continents!"
An REI employee since 1991, Chris joined the REI Adventures team in 2007. His favorite part of the job is working with REI Adventures staff. "They are a very dynamic group who work very hard to make our trips run smoothly". Chris has traveled all over North America, Europe, China and most recently spent time in Italy. His most memorable trip was to Ireland. "I was alone and had to figure everything out on my own. It was both scary and exciting." Chris spent his youth climbing, backpacking and skiing in the Northwest, and he now enjoys sharing his outdoor experiences with his son. His indispensable travel items? He never leaves on a trip without his journal and a good book.
Amy made her passion of travel and adventure her daily work when she moved from REI retail to REI Adventures in 2010. She finds her work most exciting when she is able to help others fulfill their travel dreams and is able to share her own experiences. Amy's personal travels have taken her to seven European countries, Africa and Asia. She has been to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro, climbed Grossglockner (highest mountain in Austria), on safari in Tanzania and trekking in the Alps and Himalayas. Amy is happiest when in the mountains hiking, backpacking, or climbing. Therefore, it only natural that Bhutan, Everest Base Camp or anywhere there are mountains are on her wish list. Of course Southeast Asia is also very high on her list. When traveling the two things she must have are her Nalgene water bottle and her ear plugs.
Heather has been with REI Adventures since 2008 and says the best part of her job is "taking care of the details so all our guests have to do is decide where to go next!" As a customer service specialist, she has the opportunity to assist our customers on a daily basis, ensuring they have all their questions answered and can relax and look forward to their upcoming trip. Heather is an avid sports fan and loves to travel. One of her favorite things to do is combine these two loves, visiting as many ballparks as she can. Her journeys have taken her all over the United States, Canada, Central America and Europe, with Africa high on her bucket list. Heather finds herself at home when visiting developing countries; immersing herself in the culture and loving the people. What is that Heather can't leave behind? "I never travel without my REI Flash 18 Pack, buff, journal and camera."
"Easily the best part of my job is knowing the work you are doing is ensuring that someone will be having the trip of a lifetime. Anything we can do to help people get out and celebrate this wonderful world of ours is a good thing." James practices this philosophy himself. He has been to Scotland many times, spending four weeks there in 2005 to absorb the culture and get the feel of the region. He's also spent time in Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska, New Zealand, Ecuador, Tibet, Canada and Mexico. Asked to pick his most memorable travels, James says, "Certain events from each trip will be with me for the rest of my life: kayaking in a bay full of ice chunks in Alaska (like kayaking in a margarita!), rafting the underground river in Belize, the 90 mph winds as we hiked on the Isle of Skye, the lunch in Ireland where we were visited by a herd of cows, Snorkeling with turtles, penguins and sharks in the Galapagos, standing at the Tibetan Everest Base Camp with Everest laid out before me like a mirage, and the morning on Naxos where my roommate and I walked to the top of a nearby hill for sunrise photos."
Kristen joined the REI Adventures team in 2010 from one of our retail locations. As an Adventure Specialist, Kristen enjoys preparing travelers for their next big adventure to one of our many amazing destinations and sharing her experiences. Whether bungee jumping in South Africa, scuba diving with sharks in the Caribbean, wandering solo around Europe, or studying marine life around the world, Kristen is always up for a new adventure. Most recently, Kristen's biggest accomplishment has been attaining her Divemaster status with PADI and is always happiest when she is around water. Kristen is eager to experience many more of the exotic locations REI Adventures has to offer! What's always in Kristen's travel bag? "My Nalgene, Buff, journal, and camera."
Martha joined the REI Adventures team in 2011 after 4 years working in the Cycling Department at the REI Flagship store in Seattle. She is an avid cyclist and races road bikes, mountain bikes, loves time trials and Cyclocross. When it's time for a vacation, her preferred way to see other countries is on her touring bike. Her passion for travelling has taken her to New Zealand, Spain, France, Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Peru and Chile. The American Southwest is another area that she loves to explore on a mountain bike and on foot. She also enjoys snowboarding, backpacking, camping and loves trying anything new as long as it is outdoors. She really enjoys helping people prepare for their adventure and particularly enjoys hearing their inspirational stories when they return. Asia is the next place on her travel wish list. When travelling, the one thing she cannot leave behind is individually packaged wet wipes; they really come in handy.
Wendy started in the travel industry twelve years ago working on the SS Independence in the waters of Hawaii. She then moved on to sales and product development in the small ship cruise world. She has been with REI Adventures as a Customer Service Specialist since 2011. She is an avid hiker and kayaker and loves living in the Northwest where she can do both. However, travel has always been a part of Wendy's life and has led her to all fifty states (with extensive travel in Alaska and Hawaii), as well as most of Europe, Mexico, Canada, India, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Bali, New Zealand, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala, Brazil and Peru. She is also an artist and was fortunate to study sculpture in Italy for a quarter in college. "I love going to new places and experiencing the sights, the smells, the food, and the culture of a region, so I love to be able to help people get as excited as I do about travel."
Melinda makes sure that all materials and necessary trip documentation are put together for departing trips. Her favorite part of working with REI Adventures is the people, both her co-workers and clients. She especially enjoys working online finding answers to the varied questions that come through e-mail. She's hiked in Andalusia and Tuscany, explored the ruins of Machu Picchu, canoed through the rain forests of Ecuador, cruised the Galapagos Islands, and most recently hiked in the Canadian Rockies near glaciated peaks and lakes the color of emeralds. Melinda never leaves on an adventure without her oversized but easily packable duffel bag for all those newly found treasures!
Jessica is never one to stick to the beaten path. Her extensive travels have taken her to Europe, Asia and throughout the US and North America. According to Jessica, every trip has a special place in her heart, but one of her favorite memories was staying the summer in Italy. "I was in Rome for the summer solstice and got to experience the magic of strolling along the Tiber River at night, lit with thousands of oil lamps all the way from Trastevere to Vatican City. It was an enchanting blend of ancient and modern Italy." Jessica's travel tip is to "Pack light! It's more fun to fill up your bag with goodies on the road rather than be weighed down before you even leave the house." The one piece of gear she never leaves home without? "I couldn't live without my mini-tripod!"
Abbo has been with REI Adventures since April 2006. He coordinates web site projects, facilitates image updates and requests, and manages our photo collection. Through this work, Abbo travels "virtually" every day. He's traveled with his family on road trips in the US and Canada in addition to traveling to Hawaii. He's traveled on REI trips to Ireland, Iceland, France, the southwest US and Belize. "Iceland was amazing: volcanic landscapes, an iceberg lagoon, steam geysers, waterfalls and more. Cycling in France was a real treat: spectacular chateaus, beautiful scenery, and, of course, the food. Belize was phenomenal: turquoise water, staying on a tiny island in the Caribbean, snorkeling, fun hermit crabs and more." Abbo enjoys hiking, cycling, walking, photography, nature, science, motorcycles, and learning how things work. When traveling, Abbo always takes his camera with lots of memory and extra batteries.
Eric joined the REI team in 2012. When he's not busy working telling the story of REI Adventures online, he enjoys eating, traveling, and being outdoors—in various combinations. His favorite destinations include Spain (including impromptu hikes along the Camino de Santiago), New Zealand (where he bungee jumped off three different structures in the same day), and Thailand (where he once took three days of cooking classes). Closer to home he's often backpacking, hiking, snowshoeing, and kayaking. He's always eager to hear travelers' stories, whether it's on Facebook or face-to-face. Eric's words of advice? "Food is a great way to connect with local culture—learning the history and how it shapes daily life. Always push yourself to try something new."
Nicole joined REI Adventures in the summer of 2007. Having worked previously at one of our REI retail stores, Nicole brings to the team knowledge of products and exceptional customer service. As our accounting admin, Nicole is responsible for processing sales transactions, accounts receivable and payable and managing vendor accounts. Nicole loves to spend her time in the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming and Colorado. Her favorite pastimes involve playing guitar, as well as camping and snowshoeing with her family and friends. She recently participated in our Greek Island Hopper Adventure and fell in love with the culture, people, islands and food. Nicole says 'This was truly a magical experience for me. While standing on top of Mt Zeus, eagles soaring overhead and the most amazing view of the blue Aegean Sea surrounding me, I felt as though I had been transported to another world. I will never forget the warm breeze, gorgeous hotels and friendly people I met in Greece.'
Part of the REI Adventures team since 1994, Mary is still passionate about what she does. "Seeing my team come to work each day so enthusiastic and ready to share their knowledge with our customers is the best part of my job. They don't just talk about our adventures, they're passionate about them." Mary had the opportunity to live in Europe for nine years where her family traveled extensively, hiking, cycling, volksmarching and touring as often as possible. She's also traveled in Russia, Latin America, Canada, and throughout the U.S. When asked to pick a favorite trip, Mary says, "Each trip I've taken has been memorable in its own way, but if I had to choose only one it would be the trip I took to Ecuador. Having the opportunity to experience the unique and fragile ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands up close and personal was something I will always cherish. Traveling in small groups allows you to get close to the wildlife, and the local naturalists are fantastic." Mary's advice? "Go out and explore the planet...and let us handle the details for you. I can't think of a better way to experience life."
As Weekend Getaways Program Coordinator, Heather feels a deep responsibility to ensure that our customers get the same life changing experiences on our shorter adventures as they would on our classic longer trips. "I've been to many of these areas throughout my life and I want to make sure that the great impact they've had on me is shared by those who might be experiencing them for the first time or who may just want to see them in a more intimate and thoughtful way." While her journeys have taken her around the globe, the trips she's taken in some of the most remote and unique parts of the US have been the most influential. "There are so many areas in our own backyard that hold a really special place in my heart. Helping travelers explore those destinations with our amazing guides and enthusiastic fellow travelers makes the work I do on a daily basis meaningful."
Part of the REI Adventures team since 1995, Janel loves her position as programs coordinator. She's able to share her knowledge of foreign cultures (she's lived in both Japan, Australia and South Africa) and her personal travel experiences, as well as on active REI Adventures trips, with the entire team. She's traveled all seven continents with her favorite adventures in Tanzania (climbing Kilimanjaro), Costa Rica, Thailand, Italy, and Antarctica. Antarctica made a definite impression on Janel. "There was breathtaking, surreal scenery and wildlife everywhere. It felt like you were a world away from civilization." Her trusty piece of travel gear is her headlamp, great for camping and keeping hands free for other tasks.
With 20 years in the travel industry Jan has the expertise to handle travel needs to and from our fabulous trips. Travels have taken her all over the U.S. and Mexico, Costa Rica, Peru, the Galapagos, China, Brazil, the Caribbean and the Middle East. "I love walking among huge rock formations in Utah and ancient monuments in Egypt and everything in between. Let me loose shopping in a crazy labyrinth of a market with marvelous colors, smells and sounds. That's a good time." Her favorite part of the job is talking to our travelers. "The members that go on our adventures are all so interesting. It's a pleasure to set up their travel arrangements." Jan believes REI Adventures is a great way to stretch your comfort zone and find out that you can "do it." The bonus is you find you have fascinating experiences and meet wonderful people along the way. Jan's favorite travel quote: "Remember, no matter where you go, there you are."
For more than 17 years, Suzanne has enjoyed working with the REI Adventures team and travel customers, as well as business partners and guides located all over the world. Having traveled to Central and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia (including Tasmania), Suzanne has a lot of experience with planning getaways. And she knows that vacations are precious resources. "It's wonderful to go on a trip where all the details—hotels, local guides that speak the local language, meals, and so on, are set up and ready to go. You can show up and know the details are in place so you can concentrate on having FUN!" Her most memorable trip? Trekking in Nepal's Himalayas for her honeymoon, amidst the most spectacular mountain range she had ever experienced. Suzanne doesn't leave home without her travel pillow "to use on airplanes, long car rides, while camping and even in some hotels where the pillows are more like a bolster than a soft place to rest your head at night."
As is the way with most trips, it is always nice to 'come home.' Having returned to REI Adventures after 3 years exploring other opportunities and regions of the world, Teresa has come home to REI. "It is fantastic to work with people who believe in and take pride in what we sell. That goes for my co-workers, our partners overseas, our guides in the field and the management here at REI." Teresa has been in the travel industry for 25 years and has morphed from the traveling backpacker at heart to fully appreciating the magic of going on a trip where all the details have been organized for you. Vacation to Teresa does not mean sitting and doing nothing. It means getting out there, getting some exercise and experiencing something new. Teresa has spent most of her travels over the years in the southern two-thirds of the globe: Nepal, Bali, Thailand, Central and South America, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Fiji, Cook Islands, Tahiti, Australia and her favorite destination, New Zealand. She does not leave home with out her favorite travel garment, a Marmot Windshirt.
Andy has worked in the travel industry for 25 years, the last 16 with REI Adventures. He is responsible for planning and developing many of REI Adventures' worldwide adventure travel programs. His favorite part of the job is "researching and creating new itineraries for the REI membership and the constant interaction with our colleagues around the world." Andy's travels have taken him extensively throughout Europe, to Central and South America, Russia, New Zealand and North America, including many National Parks. When asked about his most memorable trip, Andy says, "I've always had a deep love for the American Southwest and was blown away by the awesome geography and remoteness of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. We hiked for a week and didn't encounter another soul. The landscapes of the Southwest are so dramatic and grand in scale that you can't help but feel insignificant and gain a tremendous appreciation for the natural forces that shape our planet." The one item Andy never travels without is convertible pants. "Great for hiking in almost any climate, convertible pants are lightweight and offer good sun and insect protection."
In the adventure travel business for 25 plus years, Belinda coordinates our partnerships with like-minded adventure travel companies to give REI members even more ways to explore the world and stay active. She enjoys talking to customers about the places she's been and helping them get excited about going there themselves. "Experiencing different cultures and places not only opens your heart and mind, but it allows you to appreciate all that our planet has to offer." And Belinda has experienced a few different places. As a military dependent, she spent time growing up in Germany and England and traveled throughout much of Europe. Other travels include Central Asia, Latin America, Europe, Australia, Canada and extensively throughout the U.S. Her favorite trip, though, has to be Peru. "Machu Picchu was the highlight, but along the trail, every day offered a glimpse into the Inca civilization. It was a history field trip like no other." The piece of gear that she won't travel without is a mid- to lightweight fleece pullover, "perfect for over-air-conditioned airplanes, cool breezy nights and cold mornings in the mountains."
As a former guide, outdoor educator and long-time program coordinator, Justin's extensive work in outdoor adventure spans the last thirteen years. Managing programs in nearly 20 countries worldwide, he considers the most rewarding aspect of his job to be the awe expressed by REI members in their travels. "Every account we receive of a person's realization of a lifelong dream is truly inspiring." Justin's personal love of the arts and passion for all things outdoors compels him to seek out unique combinations of cultural and recreational experiences on REI Adventures trips. His favorite piece of gear must be his helmet since it seems, to his loved ones' delight and dismay, he's wearing it in every picture of himself ever taken.
Maureen loves to get our customers excited and prepared for their adventure, whether she's talking about physical conditioning or the gear and clothing needed to stay comfortable while trekking in the Himalayas, biking in Tuscany, or paddling in Baja. And she should know about conditioning and preparation for outdoor activities. She is an avid hiker, snowshoer, backpacker and mountaineer. Most of her travels have taken her to Asia for extended periods: India, Thailand, China, Mongolia and Nepal. On one such trip, she spent a few months living with a family and helping teach in a small village in Nepal. Maureen's two favorite pieces of travel gear are a Nalgene water bottle to help her stay hydrated and her water-resistant Marmot DriClime windshirt.
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